Riga: Some 5,000 people took to the streets of the Latvian capital for a gay pride parade, the culminating event of the EuroPride 2015 week which took place here from June 15-20.
Dressed in colourful outfits and costumes, and holding flags and posters calling for the acceptance of different lifestyles, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, as well as their friends and supporters marched through the streets here to the beats of cheerful music on Saturday, Xinhua reported.
A crowd had also gathered to watch the parade, with some shouting their disapproval while others showing their support for the march.
The parade was joined by many guests from foreign countries as well, notably a number of ambassadors and politicians from European parliament.
Three arrests were made for what police described as minor disturbances of public order. Among those briefly detained was Andris Orols, the leader of a Latvian NGO, which staged a counter-demonstration against the EuroPride 2015 parade. (IANS)
"More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalise same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied," believes Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN' first independent expert on the rights of LGBT
United Nations, October 28, 2017 : Immediate action is needed to stop human rights violations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, a UN human rights expert has said.
“It is unconscionable that people with an actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression different from a particular social norm are targeted for violence and discrimination in many parts of the world,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’ first independent expert on the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.
“LGBT people are suffering a crucible of egregious violations, including killings, rape, mutilation, torture, arbitrary detention, abduction, harassment, physical and mental assaults.
“They are subjected to lashings and forced surgical interventions, bullying from a young age, incitement to hatred and pressures leading to suicide,” he told the UN General Assembly on Friday.
“More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalise same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied,” Xinhua quoted Muntarbhorn as saying.
Even where there is no law criminalising consensual same-sex relations, laws on public decency, public order and social peace are used to incriminate people under the umbrella of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression, he noted.
Muntarbhorn who is from Thailand said all laws criminalising same-sex relationships should be removed from the statute books, and no other legal measures should be used to target sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for the purpose of consolidating power and suppressing dissent.
It was also imperative to remove the death penalty for all cases related to the criminalization of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression, he stressed.
“There is a need for effective anti-discrimination measures covering both the public and private spheres. Not only formal but substantive, not only de jure but also de facto, in addition to the building of a community open to understanding and respecting sexual and gender diversity,” said the expert.
To be effective, anti-discrimination frameworks should provide for effective measures to investigate alleged violations, redress for victims and accountability for alleged perpetrators, he said.
Muntarbhorn also expressed concern that human rights defenders were being increasingly targeted for their work in raising issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. (IANS)
India's Supreme Court gave transgender people "third gender" recognition in 2014.
A growing number of Indian companies are now actively hiring transgender people.
India's 2011 census recorded half a million transgender people,
but campaigners estimate the number at about 2 million.
By Roli Srivastava
MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – During a training session for its first set of transgender recruits, officials from the new metro rail company in the southern Indian city of Kochi asked them if they had any concerns. They had just one: bathroom access.
“The project construction was complete by then and the stations were ready,” said Reshmi Chandrathil Ravi, a spokeswoman for Kochi Metro Rail, a new network in the port city launched at the weekend by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“So we are now turning the big bathrooms for the differently-abled into all-gender bathrooms to be shared with the disabled,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The washroom signs have now been removed and sent for a fresh “inclusive design”. And the company has allowed its transgender recruits to choose a male or female uniform.
Kochi Metro Rail is the first government-owned company to recruit staff from the transgender community as part of Kerala state’s initiative to give the marginalised group better access to job opportunities.
Since India’s Supreme Court gave transgender people “third gender” recognition in 2014, a growing number of Indian companies have actively hired transgender people and drafted policies to ensure they are not discriminated against in the workplace.
India’s 2011 census recorded half a million transgender people but campaigners estimate the number at about 2 million. Less than half are literate and even fewer have jobs, according to the census. Traditionally, transgender people in India have been confined to the margins of society.
Male-to-female “hijras”, the most visible group in the transgender community, feature in Hindu mythology and are seen as auspicious oddities whose blessings are sought at weddings and births.
[bctt tweet=”Male-to-female Hijras are considered auspicious by Hindus.”]
This popular perception of transgender people has meant they have struggled to find regular jobs, campaigners said.
But attitudes are slowly starting to change.
“At least 12 to 13 of our member companies already have all-gender bathrooms. This started happening since last year,” said Rashmi Vikram, senior manager with Community Business, a charity that supports firms seeking to be more socially inclusive.
“Some companies have turned the disability restroom to all gender, all-abilities restroom, promoting it in a way that there is no stigma attached to it. It didn’t require a big infrastructural change, but it sent out a positive message.”
BUDDIES AND BENEFITS
A handful of firms have gone beyond ensuring bathroom access.
Global technology firm ThoughtWorks hired a transgender person in its Bangalore office as part of a diversity initiative last year and went on to provide an office buddy and an external counsellor to its new employee to smooth the settling-in period.
And in a first, IBM – named as the world’s most LGBT-inclusive company by Amsterdam-based Workplace Pride Foundation – will from this year cover gender affirmation surgery under its corporate health benefit plan, a spokeswoman for IBM India said.
Another major Indian IT firm that opened a new campus in Mumbai last year ensured at the planning stage it would have a unisex bathroom following requests from transgender employees.
Some firms are also hand-holding transgender staff during the initial employment period and keeping their identities discreet on request, but campaigners say the trend is restricted to big companies.
Nyra D’souza, a transgender woman, never took a bathroom break when she worked at a Mumbai outsourcing firm – uncomfortable in the men’s washroom and not allowed in the women’s facility.
It meant holding on for 15 hours before she reached home.
At job interviews, she had been told to consider fashion, beauty or films for a job “where I could be myself”.
But when she was interviewed at Mumbai-headquartered Godrej – a leading Indian conglomerate with interests ranging from consumer goods to real estate – she was asked about her work experience, not gender.
This, a Godrej spokeswoman said, was in tune with the company’s policy to make all interactions gender-neutral.
“Such experiences are limited only to big companies, not small,” said D’souza, who finds others from her community struggling to find jobs, or dignity in the workplace if they do.
After the Supreme Court ruling, campaigners said more companies are coming forward to recruit transgender people, but are reluctant to make adaptations.
“Over the past year, we have got nearly 15 requests from companies that wish to hire a transgender, but they retreat when I ask them about bathroom access,” said Koninika Roy of the Mumbai-based Humsafar Trust that works with the LGBT community and tries to match them with jobs.
The trust had one successful placement in the last year.
But Solidarity Foundation, a Bangalore-based rights group that works with sexual minorities, had more success – it placed 15 transgender people over the last year.
“Companies are becoming more open and talking about these issues, but integration is still not part of their DNA,” said Shubha Chacko, executive director of Solidarity Foundation.
Chacko cited the case of a transgender person detained at the office gate by security guards on his first day at work.
“The biggest challenge in India is the mindset. They connect transgender to people who beg on the streets, do sex work or sing at weddings,” said Vikram of Community Business.
“We still have a long way to go. A lot more work needs to be done.”
(Reporting by Roli Srivastava @Rolionaroll; Editing by Ros Russell. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)
Gilbert Baker who is exceptionally multi-talented was commissioned to create a flag by another gay icon, politician Harvey Milk
American flag’s constant display of stars and stripes made him realize the cultural need for a similar rallying sign for the gay community
The different colors of the rainbow emphasized togetherness
San Francisco, June 3, 2017: Everyone is delighted to see gay pride’s rainbow flags representing LGBT community winding outside of residential areas, hotels, and other public places. Hitching up them to shirts and on the back of hampers is also in trend expressing universal and never-ending love for colors. But have they ever wondered that who created the rainbow flag (also called Gay Flag) and why did it become a symbol of the LGBT community?
Gilbert Baker (also known as Busty Ross)-an exceptionally multi-talented gay activist- was commissioned to create a flag by another gay icon, politician Harvey Milk, for San Francisco’s auspicious annual pride parade. This Vietnam War veteran and then drag-performer designed the rainbow flag in 1978.
During in an interview in 2015, Baker told the Museum of Modern Art that American flag’s constant display of stars and stripes made him realize the cultural need for a similar rallying sign for the gay community. Besides being a struggling drag performer who was accustomed to create his own garments, he was well-equipped to sew the soon-to-be iconic symbol. As the idea of a flag to represent the gay and lesbian community was already hovering over his mind, the decision to enlist Baker proved fortuitous.
At that time, Nazis used betoken of a pink triangle to symbolize the homosexual group and thus, it metamorphosed into an image for the burgeoning gay rights movement. Baker rejected the use of widely accepted symbol because that symbol represented a dark and painful past. He instead opted to use a rainbow as his inspiration.
Choice of colors behind LGBT Flag: The different colors of the rainbow emphasized togetherness. Since LGBT people come in all races, ages and genders, and the rainbow is the agglomeration of all the colors as well as an indicator of both natural and beautiful. The original flag featured eight colors, each having a different meaning. At the top was hot pink, which represented sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow signifying sunlight, green for nature, turquoise to represent art, indigo for harmony, and finally violet at the bottom for the spirit.
Baker was able to construct the first draft of the now world-renowned rainbow flag, with the help of approximately 30 volunteers working in the heart of the Gay Community Center in San Francisco. It was first showcased at San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.
After the design was unveiled, it imparted a sense of pride among the participants of the parade. In the Paramount Flag Company, the flag was sold in the new altered version where blue replaced hot pink and turquoise for practicality purposes. The assassination of Harvey Milk augmented the rainbow banner only increased. Popularity was hiked again a decade later when a West Hollywood resident sued his landlord over the right to hang his flag outside his residence.
In the years since the rainbow flag has never seen back in popularity. It is unfurled around the globe as a positive representation of the LGBT community. A mile-long version of the flag was created to celebrate the 25th anniversaries of two landmark events; the Stonewall Riots and Baker’s creation of the flag itself.
At the age of 65, Baker died on March 31, 2017, just two years after the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the U.S. His legacy now remains immortal on in the six-colored flag that flies proudly every Gay Pride month, recognizing the lives and love of LGBT people worldwide.
– by Himanshi Goyal of Newsgram. Twitter: @himanshi1104